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Innovation, partnerships and local sustainability are critical to creating the conditions where foreign assistance is no longer necessary. USAID’s Office of Innovation and Development Alliances (IDEA) aims to increase the Agency's ability to leverage new partnerships, innovations, and platforms that accelerate and amplify sustainable development outcomes.
Crowd sourcing diverse ideas from anywhere around the world and encouraging new partnerships helps ensure that USAID interventions have a lasting impact. New emerging trends in international development show strong potential for improving the daily lives of people in emerging countries. The IDEA Office builds on collective experimenting, promotes and integrates new trends in the Agency's development programming through four sytematic approaches:
- Development Innovation Ventures (IDEA/DIV): identifies and tests innovations with the potential to achieve cost-effective, scalable development solutions. Through a 3 stage funding mechanism, IDEA/DIV supports promising projects with the potential to significantly improve development impact and help replicate and scale projects that are proven succesful.
- Global Partnerships (IDEA/GP): advances private sector partnerships that align business interests and capabilities with global development objectives to produce cost-effective, scalable and sustainable programs by building Global Development Alliances (GDA) that address key Agency priorities, and provide advisory services, tools, and training to Missions and Bureaus to help build imapctful partnerships.
- Local Sustainability (IDEA/LS): works closely with more than 50 Missions and Washington colleagues to strengthen civil society and local private sector capacity to improve aid effectiveness and sustainability. IDEA/LS fosters the conditions for local sustainable development by supporting NGOs, voluntary organizations, and cooperatives; expanding the reach of Missions through the Peace Corps, and connecting local organizations with the equipment necessary to achieve their goals.The IDEA/LS Team offers five programs designed to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to respond to development challenges, including the Development Grants Program (DGP), Cooperative Development Program (CDP), Small Projects Assistance Program (SPA), and Limited Excess Property Program (LEEP), as well as the registration of private voluntary organizations (PVO).
- Mobile Solutions (IDEA/MS): leverages the power and reach of mobile technology to accelerate USAID’s development goals. While access to information is critical to improving agriculture and health outcomes, not everyone has access to a mobile phone or mobile broadband. While access to finance can transform lives, the vast majority of mobile money platforms are stuck in a subscale trap. And while the mobile phone can amplify the voice of the poor in real time--flipping on its head the relationship between people, governments and donors—development organizations and governments have not kept pace with the breakneck speed of technology. The IDEA/MS team aims to close these three gaps by catalyzing 1) mobile money platforms, 2) mobile access to handsets and broadband, and 3) the integration of mobile data collection across USAID programs.
IDEA seeks to encourage innovation – the pursuit of drastic (not incremental) increases in the reach, cost-efficiency, and effectiveness of development solutions – across the Agency by identifying, highlighting, and rewarding innovations across the Agency and supporting other Offices, Bureaus and Missions in integrating innovation into their work.
In 2011, USAID Administrator Raj Shah founded the IDEA Office to lead the Agency's efforts on reimagining ways to catalyze development, crowd source new ideas, build high-impact innovative partnerships with traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to achieve greater aid effectiveness and lasting change. These principles reflect the reform agenda embodied in the Administration’s Global Development Policy, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and USAID Forward.
Last updated: September 11, 2013